It’s just over two years but the RCMP in Saskatchewan are doing many of the same things they did in the wake of the Portapique massacre here in Nova Scotia.
Somehow, though the 10 murders and the 15 stabbings happened more than 24 hours ago, we know pretty well nothing about the alleged attackers. We know their names, but only just now know they were brothers (even though they have the same last name). We know the attacks happened in the James Smith Cree Nation, and then in the village of Weldon. But there is some evidence the murderous rampage also took place in other locales.
This afternoon we found out that one of the alleged attackers had been in jail, serving more than five years for a slew of crimes, including attempted murder. And tonight we found out that one of the alleged attackers, Damien Sanderson, was recently found dead near a house on the First Nation—police say he did not take his own life. His brother Myles is still at large.
Why did the Sandersons kill?
Though one of the suspects was known to the police, somehow no one can say what that man did for a living, or in fact where he lived. Did he hate his neighbours? Did he hate his family? Did he live on the James Smith Cree Nation? Did he murder for money, for love (or hate), to get even – or for none of the “normal” reasons we see when we stream police procedurals.
Looking back to the Portapique massacre, the RCMP didn’t give an accurate count of the number of victims for a couple of days. This was because it took nearly 18 hours after Gabriel Wortman’s rampage began for the police to bother to go door to door in Portapique to find out if people were safe in their homes. A young boy of 12 phoned in a terrifying report to 911 about an hour after the killings began. The boy knew his parents had been killed by Wortman and told the operator just that. He described in the 911 call how he had seen both his parents lying on the deck of their home. But the police took no serious action for several hours. And in fact the police made sure to warn and/or assist one of Wortman’s friends or confederates, Peter Griffin, before they went to check on the children.
The deliberate misleading of the public by the RCMP, and the police’s stoney silence about what they knew became clear as the days went on. Still the RCMP persisted in their way of operating. Throughout the Mass Casualty Inquiry, the RCMP continued to maintain they did very little wrong. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s testimony in late August was a tissue of obfuscation, no serious leadership, and deflecting blame.
Let’s look further back. Remember 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky and 19-year-old Kam McLeod who murdered three people in northern BC in July 2019? The CBC called the RCMP’s search for the murderers a “confused investigation into 3 homicides… which failed to uncover the motivation for the brutal crimes.” The killers, both recent high school graduates from Port Alberni BC, killed a young couple driving through northern BC and left their bodies – riddled with gunshot wounds — in a ditch. They had been dead for many hours before the police arrived, only after they were notified by a trucker who came upon them. But for two days, the police couldn’t figure out the victims’ identities, despite finding a bank card nearby with the name of one of them. Hundreds of kilometres away, a college biology professor was found murdered– the killers stole his vehicle and set fire to their own. Still the police seemed to be no closer to tracking down the culprits.
The RCMP never found out why the teens killed
Turns out the RCMP had no real leads, and did not discover the two teens had bought an SKS semi-automatic rifle along with a box of shells from a sporting goods store. The rifle was a non-restricted weapon. The police had no idea the teens had driven more than three thousand km to Gillam, Manitoba where they were found in the bush, dead by suicide. It had been 23 days since their first victims were found.
The RCMP continues to show itself to lag behind events. They release very little information to the public, and at the same time call for the public’s help in locating the culprits. I don’t think many will laud the role of the police when it is revealed what happened and when in the tragic events in Saskatchewan. This is not just a comedy (or tragedy) of errors for the RCMP; it is standard operating procedure.
Featured Image: Northern Lights in Saskatchewan (credit: Dreamstime)